Japan adds 2 ships to its fleet of Aegis-equipped destroyers


Japan on Monday increased the number of Aegis-equipped destroyers in its fleet to eight from the current six, after the Maritime Self-Defense Force said two new ships successfully intercepted ballistic missiles during exercises.

The tests came with North Korea firing ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate, and China ramping up its missile capabilities.

Increasing the total number of destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile interceptor system is in line with the country’s 2013 National Defense Program Guidelines.

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The two new Aegis destroyers that took part in the successful tests were the MSDF’s Maya and Haguro. The Maya was commissioned in 2020 as the country’s largest Aegis-equipped ship, while the Haguro was commissioned last year.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis-equipped Maya destroyer will launch a new Standard Missile-3 Block 2A interceptor into the Pacific on November 16, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Maritime Self-Defense Force)(TBEN)

In tests conducted separately, the two ships were able to intercept missiles beyond Earth’s atmosphere after their launch in Hawaii, according to the MSDF.

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The Maya intercepted a mock ballistic missile on Wednesday by launching the new Standard Missile-3 Block 2A, an interceptor that Japan and the United States have jointly developed as a successor to SM-3 Block 1A to provide extended defense coverage.

It was the first time an SM-3 Block 2A had been launched from an MSDF ship, the MSDF said. The Haguro, meanwhile, used an SM-3 Block 1A on Saturday.

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The two ships also conducted a missile-tracking test on Monday, during which the Maya detected a dummy missile which was then successfully shot down by the Haguro.

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